Most Versatile Drummers

RIDDIM

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
3,546
Reaction score
405
Location
MD
Harvey Mason, Steve Gadd, Bill Lavorgna, Ralph Humphrey, Paul Humphrey, John Guerin, Lester Wallace, Chris Dave, and Lee Pearson all come to mind.
 

dcrigger

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
5,195
Reaction score
1,315
Location
California
Lots of great names thus far...

Here's a guy whose name rarely comes up here or on any of the other boards yet has the number one in disputed top call for all things Film and to a lessor degree TV for the past 25 years.... and that's Steve Schaeffer.

From his bio on allaboutjazz.com - http://www.allaboutj...an.php?id=19008

<<<[font="Verdana]After 12 years on the road, Steve took the drum chair with “A Chorus Line” at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles and stayed for 2 years. It was there he was discovered and became one of Hollywood's most prominent recording musicians. He has played on 1,000 feature films and Sound Tracks including: Jerry Goldsmith, (L.A. Confidential, Air Force One, The Edge, Along Came a Spider, Star Trek Nemesis, Looney Tunes: Back in Action); John Williams, (Indiana Jones, Close Encounters, Amistad, Catch Me If You Can, War of the Worlds); Howard Shore, (Big, Mrs. Doubtfire, Seven, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, The Panic Room, The Score); Alan Silvestri, (Bodyguard, Forest Gump, Mouse Hunt, What Lies Beneath, What Women Want, Castaway, The Mexican, Polar Express); David Newman, (Anasthasia, Bowfinger, Galaxy Quest, Ice Age, How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days, Serenity, Monster-In-Law); James Newton Howard, (The Fugitive, Outbreak, Space Jam, King Kong); Babyface, (Waiting To Exhale); Michael Giacchino, (The Incredibles); Teddy Shapiro, (Fun With Dick and Jane); Randy Newman, (Meet the Fockers, Pleasantville, Monsters Inc., Toy Story, Toy Story[/font][font="Verdana]2, Cars); as well as many other films with Bill Conti, Dave Grusin, Patrick Williams and Henry Mancini.

Steve has also been featured on hundreds of television shows including the hit animated shows, “American Dad” and “Family Guy”. Dozens of Gold and Platinum records ranging from Barbara Streisand's Broadway albums, both 1 and 2. Toots Thielman's Brazil 2 to GRP recordings with Diane Shurr and Stan Getz(Timeless) and Harry Connick Jr. Steve has also played more than 12 Grammy Award Shows and Academy Award shows.>>>

I was looking for his page on Drummerworld and found no mention at all - a major drop the ball IMO. As if you've heard drumming in any American motion picture (which I hear are pretty popular worldwide :) ) in the past 25 years (at least) then there was WAY more than an even chance that you were hearing Steve playing drums. Besides being wicked versatile, the cat is incredibly unsung considering the scope and depth of his reach into our collective ears.[/font]

[font="Verdana]
[/font]
[font="Verdana]David[/font]
 

W&A Player

DFO Master
Joined
Nov 23, 2011
Messages
8,350
Reaction score
690
Location
Texas
All of those mentioned may some day be as legendary as Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer.
 

67Mopar

God Speed Jerry
Joined
Apr 8, 2012
Messages
3,094
Reaction score
77
Location
Mass
Tommy Aldridge, Black Oak Ark, Travers , whitesnake , ozzy all rock but very different styles of rock, Nikko Mcbrain Travers jazzy fusion, to Maiden, heavy metal. Bruford, crazy good jazz drummer, but played mood rock with yes,
 

Bongo Congo

DFO Master
Joined
Sep 16, 2007
Messages
6,562
Reaction score
253
Lots of great names thus far...

Here's a guy whose name rarely comes up here or on any of the other boards yet has the number one in disputed top call for all things Film and to a lessor degree TV for the past 25 years.... and that's Steve Schaeffer.

From his bio on allaboutjazz.com - http://www.allaboutj...an.php?id=19008

<<<[font="Verdana]After 12 years on the road, Steve took the drum chair with “A Chorus Line” at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles and stayed for 2 years. It was there he was discovered and became one of Hollywood's most prominent recording musicians. He has played on 1,000 feature films and Sound Tracks including: Jerry Goldsmith, (L.A. Confidential, Air Force One, The Edge, Along Came a Spider, Star Trek Nemesis, Looney Tunes: Back in Action); John Williams, (Indiana Jones, Close Encounters, Amistad, Catch Me If You Can, War of the Worlds); Howard Shore, (Big, Mrs. Doubtfire, Seven, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, The Panic Room, The Score); Alan Silvestri, (Bodyguard, Forest Gump, Mouse Hunt, What Lies Beneath, What Women Want, Castaway, The Mexican, Polar Express); David Newman, (Anasthasia, Bowfinger, Galaxy Quest, Ice Age, How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days, Serenity, Monster-In-Law); James Newton Howard, (The Fugitive, Outbreak, Space Jam, King Kong); Babyface, (Waiting To Exhale); Michael Giacchino, (The Incredibles); Teddy Shapiro, (Fun With Dick and Jane); Randy Newman, (Meet the Fockers, Pleasantville, Monsters Inc., Toy Story, Toy Story[/font][font="Verdana]2, Cars); as well as many other films with Bill Conti, Dave Grusin, Patrick Williams and Henry Mancini.

Steve has also been featured on hundreds of television shows including the hit animated shows, “American Dad” and “Family Guy”. Dozens of Gold and Platinum records ranging from Barbara Streisand's Broadway albums, both 1 and 2. Toots Thielman's Brazil 2 to GRP recordings with Diane Shurr and Stan Getz(Timeless) and Harry Connick Jr. Steve has also played more than 12 Grammy Award Shows and Academy Award shows.>>>

I was looking for his page on Drummerworld and found no mention at all - a major drop the ball IMO. As if you've heard drumming in any American motion picture (which I hear are pretty popular worldwide :) ) in the past 25 years (at least) then there was WAY more than an even chance that you were hearing Steve playing drums. Besides being wicked versatile, the cat is incredibly unsung considering the scope and depth of his reach into our collective ears.[/font]

[font="Verdana]
[/font]
[font="Verdana]David[/font]
OMG Steve Schaeffer is one of my all-time favorite drummers! He had a great Modern Drummer interview a while back... yeah, it's odd that he's not on Drummerworld.
 

SteveB

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
7,845
Reaction score
208
Location
South Hampton, NH
Lots of great names thus far...

Here's a guy whose name rarely comes up here or on any of the other boards yet has the number one in disputed top call for all things Film and to a lessor degree TV for the past 25 years.... and that's Steve Schaeffer.

From his bio on allaboutjazz.com - http://www.allaboutj...an.php?id=19008

<<<[font="Verdana]After 12 years on the road, Steve took the drum chair with “A Chorus Line” at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles and stayed for 2 years. It was there he was discovered and became one of Hollywood's most prominent recording musicians. He has played on 1,000 feature films and Sound Tracks including: Jerry Goldsmith, (L.A. Confidential, Air Force One, The Edge, Along Came a Spider, Star Trek Nemesis, Looney Tunes: Back in Action); John Williams, (Indiana Jones, Close Encounters, Amistad, Catch Me If You Can, War of the Worlds); Howard Shore, (Big, Mrs. Doubtfire, Seven, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, The Panic Room, The Score); Alan Silvestri, (Bodyguard, Forest Gump, Mouse Hunt, What Lies Beneath, What Women Want, Castaway, The Mexican, Polar Express); David Newman, (Anasthasia, Bowfinger, Galaxy Quest, Ice Age, How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days, Serenity, Monster-In-Law); James Newton Howard, (The Fugitive, Outbreak, Space Jam, King Kong); Babyface, (Waiting To Exhale); Michael Giacchino, (The Incredibles); Teddy Shapiro, (Fun With Dick and Jane); Randy Newman, (Meet the Fockers, Pleasantville, Monsters Inc., Toy Story, Toy Story[/font][font="Verdana]2, Cars); as well as many other films with Bill Conti, Dave Grusin, Patrick Williams and Henry Mancini.

Steve has also been featured on hundreds of television shows including the hit animated shows, “American Dad” and “Family Guy”. Dozens of Gold and Platinum records ranging from Barbara Streisand's Broadway albums, both 1 and 2. Toots Thielman's Brazil 2 to GRP recordings with Diane Shurr and Stan Getz(Timeless) and Harry Connick Jr. Steve has also played more than 12 Grammy Award Shows and Academy Award shows.>>>

I was looking for his page on Drummerworld and found no mention at all - a major drop the ball IMO. As if you've heard drumming in any American motion picture (which I hear are pretty popular worldwide :) ) in the past 25 years (at least) then there was WAY more than an even chance that you were hearing Steve playing drums. Besides being wicked versatile, the cat is incredibly unsung considering the scope and depth of his reach into our collective ears.[/font]

[font="Verdana]
[/font]
[font="Verdana]David[/font]
I caught Steve one night at the Jazz Workshop in Boston in 1969. I can't remember who he was playing with, but it was pretty low keyed and somewhat commercial in a funky way. He was very good in that setting..the rest speaks for itself.

I'd add Richie Lepore to that list. Last I heard he was out there doing a similar thing. I haven't seen him in over 45 years, but he's Hartford, CT based.
 

tempobob

DFO Veteran
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
1,867
Reaction score
79
Location
N.J. USA
RIDDIM mentioned John Guerin.Great call. Perhaps DCrigger can add more.
 

dcrigger

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
5,195
Reaction score
1,315
Location
California
RIDDIM mentioned John Guerin.Great call. Perhaps DCrigger can add more.

Bob - thanks for the vote of confidence, but I don't know. There's probably lots more but…

… before that I think it might make sense to ask what we're collectively meaning by versatile… how big of an umbrella are we talking about?…

Because it can really vary - from the more focused versatility of IMO a Stanton Moore, Tommy Aldridge or even Bill Bruford (who though very broad stylistically has also never demonstrated much interest in straight forward commercial playing.)

So for example, Bruford's a huge favorite of mine, but the term "versatile" would be way down my list of adjectives I'd use to describe him. At least compared to someone like Vinnie - who like in a two year period recorded albums for Shania Twain, Megadeath, Burt Bacharach, Chick Corea, Sammy Nestico and literally like 50 other diverse artists. Where with some of that stuff he was hired completely because of his playing personality and then for others he was hired completely because he could play great but in an entirely anonymous manner. In my book, nobody currently even comes close to Vinnie's combination of extremely broad versatility coupled with such a profound, cutting edge voice on the instrument.

And then there's Ralph Humphrey - Ralph pretty much defines the term versatility... even just from the Dancing with the Stars gig alone (forgetting about the rest of his diverse resume - Frank Zappa, Don Ellis, Animaniacs, Al Jarreau, etc). Not since the variety shows of the early 60's, has there been a live drumming gig on TV that regularly demands that kind of range DWTS does (and don't say America Idol, the musical map that show covers is about half the size as Dancing with the Stars). And actually the 60's variety show comparison way understates it, as Ralph regularly on that show is called upon to not only play all the sales demanded of those early TV shows… but all of the popular styles that have come and gone since. From a study of drumming standpoint, his performances there are pretty amazing - the swing swings, the latin stuff is spot on, and the rock/pop/country from the 60's/70's/80's/etc all sounds just like it's supposed to. Certainly one the demonstrative demonstrations of versatility that we've seen in years - really harking back to the time of Hal Blaine, etc.

Which then brings - my second question… are we talking current guys… or historically… because like with Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, and John Guerin… Hal is really no longer active and sadly Earl and John are no longer with us.

Anyway - personally, as much as I really this kind of broad versatility and have always strived for to myself… it is really be all end all of drumming. So many of my favorite players are players that I wouldn't think of as really versatile, I just like what they do - and don't really care whether they do everything else or not.

Also there's kind of ten dance for versatility to lead to a bit of obscurity - as the versatile player is often lighting in all these different places and often not carving out a major niche in any one style.

So of the names mentioned, currently, I'd say Vinnie, Ralph, Erskine, Harvey, certainly Steve Gadd, Steve Smith, Schaeffer for sure. And would probably throw in Shawn Pelton (from SNL), Anton and Steve Jordan as well. (Though we tend to hear Jordan in a more focused direction these days - his past has quite a huge range).

I'm sure there's many more I'm forgetting - and probably more and more I don't know - but with work diminishing over the years as it has, it's become much more necessary to cover more bases, wear more hats, just to pool together enough work to stay afloat.

David
 

ALepore

New Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2019
Messages
1
Reaction score
1
I caught Steve one night at the Jazz Workshop in Boston in 1969. I can't remember who he was playing with, but it was pretty low keyed and somewhat commercial in a funky way. He was very good in that setting..the rest speaks for itself.

I'd add Richie Lepore to that list. Last I heard he was out there doing a similar thing. I haven't seen him in over 45 years, but he's Hartford, CT based.

Steve,

Reading this very late, Richie is my grandfathers twin brother who I never got to meet because of his passing a long time ago. I have heard much about him but never his music. Great to see he impacted many people. Crazy small world.

AL
 

Johnny D

Very well Known Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2013
Messages
660
Reaction score
543
Location
Scituate, Mass. USA
Steve Smith is without a doubt a versatile drummer.

Add Gregg Bissonette to the list. Gregg can play any style with conviction. He can swing a big band, play heavy metal/hard rock with Spinal Tap and DLR, pop/rock with Toto and Ringo, Fusion, Jazz, Afro Cuban.

Some great players mentioned but I can’t think of anyone more versatile (ie play as many styles with ease and conviction) than Gregg.
 

Griener

Active Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
41
Reaction score
15
Location
Berlin
Ain't nobody more versatile than Shelly Manne.
He played with everybody from Louis Armstrong to Frank Zappa.
Not to mention Tom Waits, Barry Manilow, Michael Jackson, Benny Goodman, Ornette Coleman, all the Mancini soundtracks like Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Daktari, Peter Gunn and thousands more.....
 

Latest posts



Top